Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) as they were typically called at the time were a yearly feature in GRIT’s new technology section for over a decade, until they became nearly ubiquitous due to their cost/time efficiencies over ad hoc research.
But do those advantages still hold when compared to the potential of AI synthetic data/respondents?
To add some context, AI is not new to our industry. For example, Large Language Models (LLMs)have existed since 2018. However, interest in LLM applications exploded with the arrival of ChatGPT just over a year ago (November 2022). Custom versions of ChatGPT, developed specifically for the insights industry, have proliferated.
Before AI, before Insights Communities, even before online research, researchers have always chased the Hail Grail of “Faster, Cheaper & Better”. Of course, the answer was always “pick two”. Now with AI, the Grail is closer.
So how do Insights Communities coexist, or even better, enhance AI synthetic findings?
To start, AI is not a panacea. Synthetic data/respondents based on LLM’s that are a year old could be missing data on the latest customer trends. And, ChatGPT has been known to provide “wonky” solutions. Always best to have human management of this powerful tool.
Rather than a case of which method is better, I believe researchers should seek the perfect blend of Human Centric Insights and AI Synthetic Data. Teaming the two together allows them to augment and validate each other.
The merging of Human & Artificial intelligence would become the future of our industry.
- Human insights will always surprise and can be iterative, constantly building.
- Insights Communities are, in particular, adept at iterative insights as members are available on a longitudinal basis.
- Human generated insights represent the Right (Creative) Side of our insights’ spectrum.
- AI can immediately test and validate human insights.
- Using synthetic data/respondents, AI can run scenarios to validate human insights.
- AI represents the Left (Logical) Side of our insights’ spectrum.
While acknowledging the cost/timing efficiencies of AI syndicated data/respondents, insight driven business decisions still require human responses and most importantly, human oversight of the analysis.
MROC’s and AI both offer powerful cost/timing efficiencies. More importantly, a combination of an Insights Community & AI Insights will generate a complete insights spectrum.